dug this from the water last night .. not sure if it is real or how to identify the date .. looked at a website and it looks to be from the early to mid 1700s .. but I think I might be a fake .. any help would be appreciated
It appears to be genuine. There is a small possibility of this being an amulet rather than a coin. Amulets were produced in imitation of cash coins as good luck pieces and commonly given at special times such as births, weddings, Chinese New Year etc.
Often those don't have Imperial reign characters on them like yours, with the characters replaced by various good luck messages. The other side will tell for sure, since these pieces don't have the mint marks found on coins. They generally have animals from Chinese folklore/mythology, especially things like dragons.
No, that wouldn't be usual for a coin but might be the case for a coin imitation. That doesn't necessarily make it "fake" since imitation coin amulets were not intended to deceive anyone into thinking they were currency.